Pathways to care and help-seeking experience prior to self-harm: a qualitative study in Taiwan.
ABSTRACT Help-seeking behavior may protect people from harming themselves. However, few studies have discussed how and why people access lay or professional help prior to self-harm.
This study explored the subjective experiences of individuals with deliberate self-harm in terms of help-seeking behavior and medical care pathways.
Researchers performed qualitative in-depth interviews and content analysis and used a sampling grid to recruit participants. Twenty emergency attendees between the ages of 18-55 years were interviewed on their help-seeking pathways and experiences using a standardized topic guide.
Participants identified friends, family members, healthcare personnel, and their own initiative as the primary medical care pathways. Analysis showed help-seeking experiences significantly related to the physician-patient relationship, social support, and treatment adherence. These factors were also identified as prominent themes related to medical help-seeking behavior.
Supportive attitudes and continuous care from formal and informal sources of help may facilitate help-seeking behavior, whereas negative influences from close friends or relatives may trigger a self-harm episode. Medication stockpiling and the negative aspects of close relationships should be addressed and minimized to raise the effectiveness of self-harm or suicide prevention efforts.